Pleasanton Weekly

Column - May 6, 2011

Let's keep local journalism thriving

by Jeb Bing

For more than a decade, the Pleasanton Weekly has delivered news about our town dependably every Friday. We have brought you stories about your kids, our city government and all the issues affecting the quality of life in our community. We've run your letters and photos and kept you informed about local events. Our website, PleasantonWeekly.com, has become the place residents turn to for breaking local news, to post their own stories and photos, and to discuss news and events in the community.

But today the viability of local journalism everywhere is threatened, and the time has finally come to ask our readers to pay some of the freight through paid subscriptions/memberships.

Why should you pay for something that you've been receiving for free? The short answer is that we're hoping readers will pay for a service they value, and that by paying a modest $5/month membership fee you can help ensure that Pleasanton continues to have a strong newspaper and community website covering what's happening in our town. Until now, we have been able to rely completely on advertising by local businesses to sustain our journalistic work. But that business model has been undermined by the prolonged recession and by a shift in advertising to the Internet. For any serious publication to be able to continue to employ professional journalists who cover local news, readers will need to start sharing the costs with advertisers.

Our reader surveys show intense support in the community for the Pleasanton Weekly and our website, and a strong appetite for local news coverage. We were immensely gratified that a just-completed survey shows the Weekly is by far the best-read paper and most-visited local website among residents.

Thus we turn to you, the ultimate beneficiaries of our journalism, to help sustain our efforts. Instead of requiring paid subscriptions, or a "pay wall" on our website, our goal is for our readers to sign up as "members," through either an annual payment or (better for us) a recurring monthly credit card charge of $5 or more. You can do this very simply and securely on our website. All supporting members will be acknowledged in thank you ads in the Weekly and recognized on PleasantonWeekly.com. You also will be invited to special members-only events, plus will receive a "Support Local Journalism" bumper sticker and special members-only offers from local businesses.

Whether you read the Pleasanton Weekly, turn to PleasantonWeekly.com or rely on Express, our e-daily local news digest e-mailed each day, I'm hoping you'll show your support for local journalism by becoming a member today. We are very proud of our efforts to build a stronger community. Our annual Holiday Fund campaign, which raised more than $150,000 over the past holiday season, earned us the Business Philanthropy Award from the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce in 2011 and a top recognition last month from the California Newspaper Publishers Association. Your help will enable us to maintain and expand this strong local journalism effort for the Pleasanton community.

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